Apple Inc. patents text filtering technology to prevent sexting


The newly patented anti-sexting technology could monitor more than just sexually explicit messages. Image: Joi / Flickr / CC-BY

Tuesday morning, Apple, Inc. was awarded a patent on its new anti-sexting technology. Intended as a filter to control kids’ and teen’s text-messaging, the program goes beyond just sexting. Apple’s “anti-sexting technology” is built to regulate and control a full range of mobile communications.

Anti-sexting technology patent

Apple computers has been awarded a U.S. Patent on what the company is calling “anti-sexting” programming. The program is written in such a way that it “reads” and takes action based on the “content and intent” of a message, rather than on particular words or phrases used. Apple claims that this will work better than current tools available, because it is flexible enough to address multiple criteria. The technology is only intended for text messages and does not address images sent through the phone. The newly patented technology has not yet been integrated with any Apple products.

Anti-sexting programming goes beyond sexting

The patent application for this Apple anti-sexting product cited several examples of how the product could go beyond controlling sexting. The program could also be used to require a certain number of a certain kind of texts to be sent. It could also block messages with grammar and spelling errors from being sent. In short, any kind of text message criteria could be set and required on just about any Apple device that carries this product.

Current text message control products

There are dozens, if not hundreds of current applications and programs intended to help limit or control text messaging. TigerText deletes text messages to keep them private. One application turns off texting functionality if the GPS if the device indicates it is going more than a certain number of miles per hour. There are also programs that can limit text messaging to a certain pre-set list of people or phone numbers.

Sexting as a personal right

The anti-sexting technology patented by Apple leaves a larger question open, however. At what point are rights being invaded? Some would say that children and teenagers need controls and limits on their communication and use of mobile technology. Adults, however, may find their communication recorded, monitored and even cut off depending on use of their own devices.

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